Feature: Egyptians buy sacrificial livestock to celebrate Eid al-Adha amid difficult economic conditions

Sunday, 2019-08-11 13:18:44
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A vendor feeds sheep at a livestock market set up for the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival in Cairo, Egypt, on Aug. 9, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
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"Eid al-Adha without slaughtering a ram isn't a feast for me," said Ahmad Bisher, a truck driver who was bargaining over the prices in a livestock market on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Touring the 2,500-meter-long market with his two children, Bisher was looking for a good ram to be sold at a reasonable price.

Shopping around from one stall to another, he finally selected a ram, paid EGP4,500 (US$272) and loaded it on his truck.

"After removing the skin, legs, head and guts, some 38 kg will remain. That's enough for my family, neighbors and poor people," Bisher said, fastening the ram's legs with a rope.

The Egyptian truck driver noted he used to buy a cow for the Eid al-Adha, but the price of a cow has now soared to as prohibitive as EGP8,000 to EGP30,000.

Eid al-Adha, the second significant religious festival of Islam, starts on Sunday (August 11), coinciding with the Hajj, annual Islamic pilgrimage to the Saudi holy city of Mecca.

Known as the "Festival of the Sacrifice," Eid al-Adha is marked to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's readiness to sacrifice his son in order to demonstrate his dedication to God.

The animal to be sacrificed during the feast is usually a goat, sheep, cow or camel, which is separated into three parts with at least one third must go to the poor.

Traditionally, a Muslim will keep a second third of the meat for his family and give the final third to their neighbors.

"Sharing a cow was the best option to maintain the religious tradition, which can bring happiness to my family because of the high prices," said Hossam Abdel-Fattah, who shared with one of his friends a cow worth EGP17,500.

He said the livestock were actually cheaper this year, but the prices of other commodities hiked, making people spend less on feast needs such as new clothes for children.

Hussein Abdel Rahman, head of the farmers syndicate, said the average prices of livestock have slumped by 10 to 15 percent compared with last year.

The exportation of live and slaughtered animals in large quantities by the private sector, lower purchase power in general because of difficult economic conditions, and more governmental windows for selling animals all contribute to the cheaper prices of livestock this year, Rahman noted.

However, "despite the lower prices, the buyers' number so far is still just not so good," said Mohamed Fayoumy, a 45-year-old butcher.

Egypt has adopted a strategy of sustainable agricultural development 2030 which aims to increase the state's production of livestock to 2 million tons annually and raise the annual per capita consumption to 18.5 kg by the year 2030.